If you are into running then you may have noticed the TCS name. We have taken up a leading role in globally supporting key running events such as TCS Amsterdam Marathon, the TCS New York Marathon and the TCS World 10K Bengaluru.
This year, we also started a technology partnership with the Virgin Money London Marathon and have just signed a five-year deal with Lidingöloppet, the legendary Swedish sports event and arguably, the world’s largest cross-country run.
Anybody who knows me will know that I love to run. For me, running is not just about fitness, it is about getting close to nature and recharging myself. The pace of our modern lives can be overwhelming, and the way we manage our physical and psychological well-being is an important part of living a balanced and healthy life.
As Amby Burfoot, the well-known author of “The Runners’ Guide to the Meaning of Life” puts it, “As we run, we become…” It means when we take time to run we go on a journey to understand life a little better.
At TCS, health and well-being is an important part of our business. Most TCS staff are engaged in our internal fitness programme Fit4Life and collectively, we run over 6 million kilometers every year, the equivalent of 150 laps around the earth. We reward staff for keeping fit by making donations to charity. We know, from the feedback we get, that our people enjoy it and believe it is one of the reasons the Top Employers’ Institute recognized us as one of the Europe’s best employers.
Some of the practical benefits of running are feeding through into real-life too.
The modern marathon exemplifies the ways in which digital technology is transforming all aspects of society; social media, smartphone applications, fitness trackers and wearables gives marathon participants a wealth of data to help guide their preparation and boost performance.
Our TCS Digital Enterprise unit develops the official event app for the majority of races we partner with. It enhances the digital experience of the event for both runners and supporters – each mobile app allows families and supporters to track the progress of runners on a real-time basis as they progress along the course.
The Virgin London Marathon announced the creation of the world’s first digital marathon back in 2014, where runners could match a digital avatar to the real London course. It means people can take to their treadmills and ‘virtually’ run the 26.2-mile distance from their gym or home. Or from space. UK astronaut Tim Peake completed the challenge on the International Space Station this year, setting a Guinness World Record for the first person in space to complete a marathon.
Wear it well
Of course, from play comes some serious real-world applications. None of these apps, fitness trackers or digital marathons would be possible without the internet of Things (IoT). It’s what keeps us all connected when using mobile devices or ‘wearables’, as the term has become known for any digital device that attaches to and monitors the functioning of the body.
Wearables have led to the emergence of ‘self-care’ and ‘healthcare advisor’ disciplines too – the benefits of a healthy lifestyle have fuelled innovation that plays a key role in moving the point of care from the hospital to the physician’s office, and ultimately to the patient’s home.
It’s a vital change when public sector health provision is facing a funding crisis and demographic shifts means we have more elderly people to care for with a shrinking pool of youth.
Wearables will enable patients to seek health treatment whilst in the home; it enables them to remotely diagnose a range of chronic conditions such as blood pressure, glucose levels, weight gain, etc without having to seek outside help.
It can also ensure that the elderly get to live longer in their own homes. Devices such as tablets can be used as security devices or home alarms, ensuring the best of care at the minimum of cost. We can even use tablets or mobiles to provide physician’s services directly to the home via a video link, alleviating the burden of a patient having to struggle to see a doctor for help. Several of these and many more use cases are already in large scale pilot being jointly run by TCS & SMU in Singapore.
The healthcare sector is going through a radical transformation in a bid to move towards more affordable, accessible and quality care. New developments are being introduced all the time as we move towards a model of self-sufficient care to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
It is gratifying to acknowledge the role TCS has taken in using Digital as a transformative force to improve the lives of our people around us – our colleagues, clients & societies we operate in. At TCS, Digital is the force for human empowerment.
Amit Bajaj is Chief Executive, Europe, at Tata Consultancy Services.